Every brand needs a refresh every once in a while — a new way to reach their customers, a new look and feel, or a different way to introduce a particular product or service to their customers. Enter the microsite.
While many digital marketing trends come and go, the microsite has remained. In the age of information overload, the focused scope of the microsite is not only welcome, but effective.
What is a microsite, and why should you incorporate one into your next marketing campaign? We’ll start with the basics before diving into the key elements you need to make your microsite succeed.
What Is a Microsite, and Why Do You Need One?
A microsite is a simpler and more streamlined web page or small group of web pages than, say, your company website. It usually lives on its own domain, and has a more limited goal or purpose.
Here are just some of the reasons you might want a microsite:
- You want to set apart or highlight a specific marketing campaign.
- You want to spotlight a particular product or service.
- You want to launch a new product or service.
- You want to reach a different or more specific audience than your website targets.
- You want to tell the story of your brand or share your company history.
- You want to share the results of a study or the findings of a white paper.
- You want to encourage a specific call-to-action, especially one that’s distinct from what your main company website encourages.
Here’s one example. A year ago, Killer Infographics launched a microsite with 1 goal in mind: to explain what a visual communication agency is.
While we’d seen a significant uptick in visual literacy over the past decades, we had noticed a need to clarify how brands can actually harness the new visual communication trends. In particular, many weren’t aware that a cutting-edge solution was already out there: the visual communication agency, specializing in end-to-end service from ideation to launch. We wanted to raise awareness of what such agencies do on a non-branded website. That’s why we launched a microsite that was a single, long-scroll, parallax page. Click here to learn more about the making of our microsite.
Above: A microsite can serve to explain your value proposition and outline your service offerings — or just focus on one of your products or services. This is an example from visualcommunication.agency.
5 Essential Elements of a Successful Microsite
Let’s dig in a little deeper to what should be on your microsite. Your choice of topic or goal could mean the difference between success and failure, and the way you bring that goal to life in the design and navigation is just as important. Here are 5 characteristics that every successful microsite must deliver.
1.) A Clear Call-to-Action
You not only need a strong, singular goal for your microsite — you need to know how to measure it. So what does success look like to you? Buying your product? Clicking through to the main brand site? Make sure your topic and page structure lead naturally to this conversion. Otherwise, you may be telling the wrong story.
2.) A Single Goal
We’ve said this already, but it merits repeating: a microsite should only aim to achieve a single goal. Why? Because microsites are about simplifying your messaging around a single story — often on a single page. Pull your audience in too many directions at once, and they might not know what you’re asking them to do.
3.) A Clearly Defined Audience
Knowing exactly who you’re aiming to speak to on your microsite will help you define your 1 goal. It will also determine the tone, messaging, design style, and interactive components of the microsite. Different age groups like to interact with brands in different ways. What’s more, a B2C site might have a much more fun, informal tone than a B2B site. So keep all of this in mind — you can’t write content or start design without knowing your audience.
4.) A Visual Story
Every microsite tells some kind of story. It may be relating the history of your company. It might be sharing a new report that offers key insights on your industry. You want to organize this information to tell the most compelling story possible.
What you don’t want to do is tell it with lots of text. Audiences will look the other way if you give them a reading assignment. Instead, integrate illustrations, data visualizations, parallax animations, and interactivity — and keep text to an absolute minimum. All this will make them want to keep scrolling, clicking, and interacting with your brand.
5.) A Distinct Design Style
Some microsites retain the branding of their parent company — and that’s OK, so long as you want the site to be identifiable as yours right off the bat.
But if you’re customizing the site to appeal to a particular subset of your customer base, you’ll want to make sure it feels personalized to them. That might mean veering slightly or dramatically from your normal branding. If the microsite is part of a visual campaign, you might create a unique look and feel for that entire campaign, and ensure the microsite ties in visually to your social assets, print materials, and other collateral.
Just remember, it’s OK to adopt a design style that’s unique to your microsite. It may even be the key to its success.
Above: The Killer Infographics microsite, visualcommunication.agency, retains some Killer branding but differs in subtle ways, including in the use of gradients and in its color palette.
Benefits of a Microsite
Microsites can offer a wealth of advantages. Here are just a few:
- Boost your brand’s SEO ranking.
- Reach new audiences on their terms.
- Experiment with new messaging or branding styles.
- Generate buzz around a particular offering.
- Tell your brand’s story more effectively.
- Help audiences feel more connected to your brand through and interactive interface.
- Gain more media attention for a white paper or report.
Follow these key directives and your microsite will be well on its way.